Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Her Name is Ruby!

Okay, so even though many of you commented that you liked 'Periwinkle', I did not. I liked the idea of her but my mind's eye had other visions of what she could be. And so I went back to work and this doll (who I call 'Ruby') was born.

We just returned from vacation, visiting my family in Massachusetts. My niece Emma seemed happy with this gift, although she mentioned the hair felt scratchy, I think she liked it.

Christmas was a whirlwind for us; as I am sure it was for most of you too.
Sometimes being a parent can be exhausting. For me, Christmas is one of those times. I adore my kids (obviously) but there are so many expectations wrapped up in Christmas (no pun intended). I feel such an obligation to meet expectations, which is something I've tried and let go of because I usually come up short. This time of year makes me feel upside down. I want the kids to be happy, but I struggle with buying vs creating happiness. In this time of mass production, emails take the place of hand written notes,store bought items over shadow the handmade ones, and so it is easy for say a 10 year old (Spirited Child) to get caught up in the hyper, over stimulating, noising world of X-box. But between his OBSESSION with the TV screen and Little One's need for destruction (no tree ornaments are safe! we lost FIVE this year) I think the 6 hour car ride (and 6 hours back) was what elevated my stress level more than anything,'Taller Than Me' wanted to drive the whole way!

It was a week of realizations for me, that parenting children of such drastically different stages of development is often more difficult than I think it will be. And that I need to ask for help occasionally. Something that has always been a challenge for me. I had imagined TIME as my Christmas gift. That with school break and tons o' new things to entertain my boys, I might find the time to draw, sew, paint, do SOMETHING other than referee, clean and care for others. But, alas, no such luck. The six hour car ride was what did me in. Did I mention, my husband had walking pneumonia? So, my partner was down for the count.

Now, I'm home and my cat wants all I have left to give. Which oddly enough is just enough and the relationship is symbiotic so it's all good. Montessori Papa is in better health and we are no longer in a minivan. Life is good this morning. I hope you all have had a wonderful week of Christmas, with safe travel and good times. I appreciate you reading my rant. There were MANY wonderful things that happened this week also...I intend to share about them as well; maybe tomorrow?
Tomorrow is the first day of 2009!
Happy New Year's Eve!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

'Periwinkle' a hand-made doll for my niece Emma.
This hand-made Christmas is turning out to be allot harder than I imagined!
Phew! One doll done, three left to make. Wish me luck.

Last night was our Cornerspring Staff Christmas Party. It was lots of fun, the kids made candy houses and as always we exchanged gifts with the Yankee Exchange. I appreciated getting a chance to talk with the other teachers I don't work with on a regular basis. Monique's house was a dream for a big party and the food was wonderful! Sure 'Middle Man' had a crying moment,(typical of most large gatherings he is part of) but for the most part all went well.

I learned upon returning home that my Dad had fallen in the shower and broke some ribs! We are traveling home in a few days, and we will see him but, I wish I could magically transport myself to him just this moment. I feel so badly for him! I would like to give him a big hug. Gently of course. Say a prayer for him.

Today we are all home together, there is a blizzard brewing outside and I am baking cookies. I love days like this, when we don't have anywhere we HAVE to be. And of course I LOVE cookies! Just wondering, what is your favorite Holiday cookie?

Hot Cocoa wishes,
Montessori Mama

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My first published work!

I'm very excited tonight, I have just found out that my book, When I Make Silence, will be in print in time for the Feb. 26th American Montessori Society National Conference (held this year in New Orleans)!!!
It's a small book, a poem really, that the kind folks over at Parent Child Press read and enjoyed. I sent it along with Maria Mouse, hoping she would become a story book. They liked the poem better and now IT will be a book!

Alicia Jewell
is the illustrator she wrote and illustrated a book called The Peace Rose which is a beautiful book, a treasure for primary classrooms especially. Anyway, she agreed to work on my book and is just finishing up the illustrations now so the book can go the graphic designers and then to print!

So, if any of you fellow Montessorians, parents and educators alike, plan to attend the up-coming AMS Conference PLEASE stop by the Parent Child Press table and buy one of my books!

When I have a copy myself, I will post more about it. Our local library wants me to do a book signing! Did I mention I was excited? Thanks for sharing in my joy. PEACE to you all during this busy time of year.

Now, I'm back to my sewing crafts....each night I get a little bit closer.
Oh! today I received the MOST delicious cookies from a sweet parent. They were so yummy! Thank you, you know who you are!
PEACE to all,

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Making Progress....

One of four. It's slow going but I'm almost done. A handcrafted Christmas is harder than it sounds, Tasha Tudor I am not. So far I've made a few gnomes, two matching card sets, several affirmation card sets, and 5 cloth gift bags. My hunny is sick with a bad cough, Little One and I are sharing a cold...
I may resort to baking gifts instead of making gifts.
In the classroom lots has been getting done. Some of the children's parents read this blog so I won't share what the toddlers have made as gifts until after Friday.
I will say, I love my job. Today a friend I haven't seen in a long while stopped by the school to say hello. She asked me about life, she had heard about 'Taller Than Me'crashing our minivan, Little One's fractured arm and she knows about our on-going money troubles (our moderate income family of five surviving with the economy in the state it is in....). It feels like we are just keeping our head above the water. Anyway, she asked me how I was doing with all these troubles and things to worry about?

And I answered honestly, I worry yes, but still every day I thank God I have what I have. The husband, the family, the friends and especially my job. It's allot of work, yes, but I love it. The children make me smile every day, every day at this job I smile and laugh. I feel loved and appreciated and I know what I do is important work.
My friend could tell I was happy, she told me she missed seeing me smile and hoped to see me again soon. Sometimes it can be valuable to tell a friend you haven't seen in a long while, about your life and what you do and don't enjoy about it. It gives you perspective and reminds you to count your blessings.
I'm feeling blessed tonight. Tired but blessed. Goodnight.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This Little Light of Mine...

Have I mentioned that I LOVE our new Goodwill Store? While searching for containers for potential Montessori works, I discovered this flashlight for .59cents. Can't beat that!

Anyway, add some D batteries and a tray and you have a flashlight work for under $5.00. One little boy in the group is lovin' this work! He likes to build, put things together AND to take things apart. The flash light work is his new favorite material.

This month we've been talking about candles, the sun, light, shiny and dull, bright and dark etc; so this work has found a home on our shelves not a moment to soon.

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

And the Oscar Goes To...

Middle Man as 'Mole' from Wind in the Willows
I was so proud! At just ten years old, he landed a large role and pulled it off successfully. So many lines, scenes and too much make-up!!!
But today was the last performance and it is done!

How are those holiday crafts coming? I'm not doing so well...who has the time?! But I'm gonna keep trying. I haven't done any shopping so....I hope to share some creations in near-future posts. By the by, I recently had my one year blog-anniversary, one of you emailed me to let me know. How sweet! Apparently I haven't been paying attention...I thought I would list a few of my favorite post from the past 12 months for those of you new to my blog to read when time allows you.
Be Safe Be Gentle Be Kind
Cosmic Education
A Sense of Wonder
Creating a Center~Peace


Saturday, December 6, 2008

For the Birds

The story goes that Maria Montessori observed the "children's joy in making silence" when one of her assistant teachers visited the classroom with her infant daughter. The baby, just weeks old, was asleep when the teacher visited.

Maria observed that the children, who had been excited about meeting the new baby, quickly quieted down and sat down on the floor forming a circle of awe and silence around the visiting baby and mother. With respect and reverence they circled the infant, admiring it's small features and soft hair. The once busy and bustling classroom had become quiet, peaceful and reflective.

Dr. Montessori later went on to introduce 'The Silence Game' recreating the peaceful atmosphere by leading the children in 'making silence', and in doing so she would share with the children and with the world, that even young learners benefit from a quiet time in their day, a time to listen and nurture one's inner peace.

In our classroom making silence has been inspired by hungry birds. The kindergarten class that used our classroom last year, had attached a bird feeder to one of the low windows. Each day one of the toddler students will ask to feed the birds. Once every child who wants to, has had a chance to scoop bird seed, the window is closed and the waiting begins. Some of the toddlers leave the window as quickly as the arrived to it, moving on to other activities in the classroom. But there are some friends who patiently wait for the birds to come and eat.

And Oh! When they come,the birds eat and the hop about making sounds and gazing at their own reflections, while the children sit quietly and smile, making silent observations. Truly, it happens just this way, almost every day. And it is beautiful. At the beginning of the school year when we introduced the bird feeder; the children would run to the window shrieking with excitement and of course, the birds would fly away. On occasion this will happen still but usually one or two out of the ten will stop the shrieking friend by saying, "'ll make them fly away." Then together they will creep closer and quietly, finally sitting down to watch together. Sharing the moment with quiet appreciation.

Our classroom is called 'The Nest'. At circle time, I lead the children in making silence, by reminding them about the birds at the bird feeder. It is a tangible point of reference for them and it works. They so love those birds!

Pine Cone Bird Feeders:

The toddlers loved making these pine cone bird feeders. Using small spreaders they spread sun butter (a peanut butter substitute made from sunflower seeds) all over the pine cone they chose. Next they spooned bird seed over the sticky pine cone. We later hung these yummy bird ( or squirrel) snacks from the monkey bars for our feathered friends to enjoy.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Yoga With Toddlers

Before nap, we stretch like cats.

We curl up and make our bodies small and still like pebbles on the beach.

We feel peaceful and we go to sleep.

Well not every day....and not every child. My son, pictured here, refuses to nap on a regular basis, yoga or no yoga. But he likes the yoga.
We are finding that most of the children really enjoy it and are quickly learning the positions. Do any of you use yoga with toddlers?

Where in the World?


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